Meta’s sea change moment in the last few months was Mark Zuckerberg taking a metaverse selfie with his faceless avatar and clip art images showing world landmarks. Meta was forced to defend the image after it went viral and began to talk about possible improvements to Horizon Worlds, its main metaverse.
But all we have is the present and what actually exists on Meta’s platform at the moment. And I’ve just watched another video that should dry up any lingering confidence that whatever Mark Zuckerberg is building here is actually the future. Meta Horizon posted this tweet this week about an “event” happening inside the Metaverse in which an unseen Godzilla has stepped on…a Wendy’s. In the Wendyverse.
UPDATE: Meta Horizon removed the tweet, video and explanation. This YouTube video shows the experience.
A “once in a lifetime experience” indeed.
You don’t know where to start with this. Horizon Worlds is still looking aesthetically awful. There are no textures or features on the avatars, and the landscapes look like Roblox. Despite Mark Zuckerberg’s future promises of legs, avatars are still floating around like demented ghosts, though I guess Godzilla at least has legs if he was able to step on a Wendy’s.
And I’m sorry, what, this event is…Godzilla stepping on a Wendy’s? Meta has been aggressively seeking brand deals and crossovers even before its universe is established. If this is the game’s idea of an “event,” it’s no wonder why Horizon Worlds has actually lost 100,000 players this year instead of coming anywhere close to reaching Meta’s growth goals for it.
In contrast, here’s a “mech versus monster” live event that Fortnite had in its map three years ago:
No, it’s not in virtual reality, but no one cared about that. It was cool to see it through your virtual avatar. Fortnite has something similar every 3-6 months. It’s already more of a metaverse than Meta can ever hope to create, no matter how many billions get thrown into its black hole.
There are only so many times you can say we are in the “early stages” of the metaverse before you realize that at the very least, this Zuckerberg-specific VR version is going nowhere. It’s already been many, many years and visuals feel like they’ve barely improved here, and the ongoing quest for legs appears to be never-ending. These worlds are ugly and lifeless and this, a giant Godzilla footprint in a virtual Wendy’s, is their idea of fun and a “once in a lifetime experience,” said completely without irony. How can anyone have any faith that the billions of dollars being thrown at this thing every quarter are ever going to produce something that’s either A) widely adopted or B) remotely profitable? There is no way to get there. Not without waiting 10, 20 years for enormous leaps and bounds in the tech, and I don’t think Meta investors will have that much patience. I certainly wouldn’t.
Update (11/19/19) As I posted earlier in the piece, Meta was actually so embarrassed about the Godzilla Wendy’s event it actually deleted the tweet in question featuring the original video. In turn, that deleted it from this article so it looked like there wasn’t a video at all. This is not cool Meta!
But again, you can still see the event from the video from a Meta user above, and I’m not sure what it says about your world when one of the only things you’ve decided to promote all month about your platform (Meta Horizon has only two total tweets in all of November now) is something you are forced to delete because it’s getting dunked on too severely. I actually only saw this clip in the first place because of Kevin Roose, New York Times technology columnist, tweeting it with the caption “this is bleak.” My own tweet about it got probably 10x the engagement of Meta’s own, and even though sure, it’s a rival platform, it strikes me as pretty weird that Facebook’s main metaverse hub has a paltry 18.9K Twitter followers. Any big post it has is viral for a bad reason, like its “whose excited about legs??” one that has a ratio of 7,500 quote tweets to 6,000 likes:
Meta’s goal for Horizon Worlds was 500,000 players by the end of the year. It had dropped from 300,000 at start to the year to 200,000 by the end of the year, so it seems unlikely that anything has changed. Increased Since then, it has not changed. Horizon Worlds may not be the best. Only aspect of Meta’s VR ecosystem, it is supposed to be the main metaverse hub, but it remains a wasteland of empty spaces and poorly executed ideas like Gozilla stepping on a Wendy’s. I do not believe it’s just a matter of time until Meta figures out how to make Horizon Worlds and engaging place for the broader population. It is unlikely that this will ever happen. What does this mean for their metaverse ambitions, you ask?
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